Defensive discards find a home with Cowboys

Posted Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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galloway Repeated warnings came rolling into the email box on Monday, with concerned citizens advising it would be a mistake for yours truly to suddenly man-hug in print the local football team.

Those first-place Dallas Cowboys.Those now-on-a-win-streak Cowboys.

Thanks, one and all, for caring.

But look, folks. What I drink, I drink straight. No mixing of blue Kool-Aid is ever involved. It’s an 8-8 team until it wins nine games, if it does.

Then again, there are two points — count ’em, two — to be made this morning about the Cowboys’ recent good fortune, including Sunday’s 17-3 win in Philly.

First, I have suddenly become obsessed with what’s going on defensively for the Cowboys, with that obsession concentrated on the four-man front.

I wrote this last week, but I’m doing it again.

The roll call on Sunday was:

Jason Hatcher, a proven NFL grunt up front, but this season, a damn NFL star at tackle. No really, a star.

Beyond Hatcher, the impossible is happening.

George Selvie, good player at end. Nick Hayden, good player at tackle. Kyle Wilber, good player at end.

That was the starting front four in Philly.

It has to be constantly repeated — if nothing else, as a tribute to line coach Rod Marinelli — Selvie and Hayden are both repeat failures in the NFL, while Wilber, a fourth-round draft pick in 2012, was never mentioned once around here before last week as a possible “player” in the league.

But Selvie, Hayden and Wilber were at least with the team in training camp. Oxnard fodder was supposed to be their fate, but they did go through camp in August.

Beyond the starting front four on Sunday, it really got wacko in Philly.

Rotating fresh bodies is, of course, a must in this new 4-3 scheme. The rotation guys, all with ample playing time against the Eagles, were:

Jarius Wynn, signed four days earlier off the street.

Drake Nevis, a street signee from two weeks ago.

Caesar Rayford, picked up in a low-level trade with the Colts the week before the season started.

Jason Vega, a street player added by the Cowboys after the last exhibition game, cut by the Cowboys a week later, went unwanted, then resigned by the Cowboys for the practice squad, and added to the active roster on Friday.

So ...

The Cowboys were taking on what had been the NFL’s most prolific offense in Philly, and doing so with six confirmed multiple reject guys, plus whatever it is you want to call Hayden.

Three points. That was the Eagles’ scoreboard output for 60 minutes.

Yes, I’m obsessed with this development, mainly because it’s unheard of in the NFL. Rejects can surprise in a new environment, but six rejects surprising?

And it was basically the same collection of football boat people who anchored the front line against Washington a week earlier and snuffed RG3 and his guys.

Well, the theory went, RG3 is not “the same.”

OK, I give you that, except on Sunday, the Redskins’ offense hung 45 points on the Bears, winning a thriller, and RG3 accounted for nearly 400 yards himself, not only running it again effectively, plus 298 yards throwing.

Granted, because of injuries, the Bears’ defense has been downgraded, but so what? It’s not like the Cowboys defense is enjoying good health.

Check the playing time in Philly for the eight guys up front.

The defense was on the field for 80 snaps.

Hatcher, 55. Selvie, 48. Wilber, 54. Hayden, 54.

And the rest of the boat people?

Rayford, 25 snaps. Wynn, 25. Nevis, 26. Vega, 28, including two offside penalties. Despite that, Vega held his own.

The street rejects were in there for a third of the defensive snaps. And the Eagles scored three points.

As pointed out right here last week, it is beyond NFL common sense that this many football boat people playing on a defensive front can be counted on to hold up over the course of the season.

Even so, they did it against the Redskins. Now they’ve done it on the road against the Eagles.

Next up: Another high-octane offense awaits in Detroit on Sunday.

Until then, count me as obsessed with this development.

And then there’s the second point to be made about Sunday’s win in Philly.

Please, stop it with the style-pointing of a Cowboys win.

Embrace the W. And move on. It’s not a good enough team for anyone to style-point wins. I don’t care how poorly the quarterbacks played for the Eagles, and, yes, starter Nick Foles had himself a bad, bad day.

But poor QB play accounts for a good 75 percent of the losses each week in the NFL.

If it’s not your quarterback in that 75 percent, be a dub-ya lover, not a doubter.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys signed another defensive lineman off the street on Monday, a guy just released last week by Miami. His name is Marvin Austin, and, no, I never heard of him either.

Obviously, the mysterious Mr. Austin will be a perfect fit at Valley Ranch.

Randy Galloway, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @sportsdfw

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